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Federal Administrative Law: Updating & Citing Regulations

This guide serves as an introduction to federal administrative law. It includes research resources on federal agencies, The Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, treatises, administrative decisions and more.

Updating Regulations on Online Sources

First:  Go to e-CFR(unofficial) and locate the regulation and check the date the regulation is current through.  This is the unofficial version and is generally current within 2 business days.


Second:  Click on the link for the Federal Register and browse the table of contents for each issue from the current date of the e-CFR until today’s date.  The table of contents is arranged by agency and subject matter.  You must check every issue because many regulations become effective the date they were first published in the Federal Register.

Updating Regulations on Subscription Databases


Go to the CFR database or "Find by Citation" and pull up the regulation.  Westlaw will tell you how current the CFR is, you can click on “currentness” of the regulation and it will bring you to the bottom of the page.  You can then KeyCite the regulation.  A red flag indicates the regulation has been amended, repealed, superseded or held unconstitutional.  A yellow flag indicates that a proposed rule affecting the regulation is available, or can mean that the validity of the regulation has been questioned.  A green "c" indicates the regulation has citing references.

Westlaw also offers "Regulations Plus" which allow you to check prior versions of the regulations, cases, agency opinions & decisions; Federal Register summaries and references, authority statutes and analysis in law reviews and treaties.


On Lexis-Nexis you can also update federal regulations.  Go to the CFR database or "Get a Document" and retrieve the rule you are looking to update.  At the top of the page it will tell you how current the rule is (usually within 1-2 weeks).  Then click on “Retrieve Regulatory Impact” and any changes or citations to the federal register that update the CFR will be displayed.  Please note, that unlike KeyCite on Westlaw, Shepardizing does not update the CFR through today’s date.

Citing Regulations under "The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation"

Rule 14 of The Bluebook covers Administrative and Executive Materials.[1]  Rule 14.2   is specific regarding rules, regulations and other publications.  It is always more correct to cite to the Code of Federal Regulations.

A citation to the C.F.R. would appear as follows:  29 C.F.R. § 825.112 and would refer to section 112 of part 825 in Title 29 of the C.F.R.

 For the Federal Register the citation would appear as follows:  Carbon Black; Exemption from the Requirement of a Tolerance, 74 Fed. Reg. 40509 (August 12, 2009) (to be codified at 40 CFR § 180.920).   This refers to volume 74, page 40509 which appeared in the Federal Register on August 12, 2009. 

[1]THE BLUEBOOK: A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF CITATION R. 14 at 133 (Harvard Law Review Ass’n et al. eds., 20th ed. 2010).

Subject Guide